The Auto Accident Claims Process in Colorado
Few things are more disruptive and anxiety-inducing than being involved in a car accident that produces injuries and/or damage to property. When such misfortune does occur, it may be possible for victims to receive compensation for the losses sustained by utilizing insurance coverage of one type or another. If another party was determined to be at fault in the incident, victims may be able to recover damages from that party’s carrier, and in the case of crashes caused by an uninsured motorist, the victim’s own policy may provide the resources necessary.
Regardless of the specifics of a given crash, it is extremely likely that a great deal of interaction with insurance company personnel will be required in order to achieve an appropriate outcome that covers unexpected medical bills, repair costs and other categories of loss. Considering that such negotiations are rarely simple, it is important for those harmed in Colorado auto accidents to secure the assistance of a knowledgeable injury lawyer. Jeremy Rosenthal understands the intricacies of the claims process and stands ready to do everything possible to obtain maximum possible compensation for his clients.
Colorado Auto Insurance Fundamentals
In the immediate aftermath of a vehicle crash, it is extremely important that victims contact law enforcement officials as well as their insurance carrier to report the event. For certain types of minor accidents, this may be sufficient to get the ball rolling and facilitate a prompt, fair payout of claims. However, in more complex cases, it is far more likely that the relevant insurer will begin to drag their feet and question the true amount of damages involved.
Because Colorado has moved to a tort system of auto insurance, those injured in accidents are required to seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy rather than their own. The exception to this would be when the at-fault driver turns out to be uninsured or underinsured, at which point the injured driver could seek payment through his or her own un/underinsured coverage, if available. It is worth noting that under Colorado law, vehicle owners within the state are required to have the following levels of coverage:
- $25,000 of per-person bodily injury coverage and $50,000 per accident event
- no less than $15,000 of per accident property damage coverage
- medical payments coverage totaling $5,000 per accident (though this can be declined in writing)
- uninsured motorist coverage totaling $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident event (also may be declined in writing)
Unfortunately, the process of receiving fair compensation pursuant to these coverage categories regularly proves difficult, with adjusters doing their level best to deny, minimize and carefully scrutinize every claim made.
Settling vs. Litigating Auto Accident Claims
A substantial number of accident victims are able to successfully receive appropriate insurance payouts with the help of an attorney skilled in precisely these types of negotiations. This is an ideal outcome in that it helps ensure that much-needed funds are available faster and that no money is wasted on protracted litigation. Sadly, there are other instances in which the payout offered by the insurance carrier of an at-fault driver is wholly insufficient to compensate for the losses sustained, and when that occurs, litigation may be necessary. In so-called “no-fault” insurance states, the victim’s own insurer was responsible for paying claims and acting at all times in good faith with regard to coverage. However, within Colorado’s fault system of insurance, victims must secure payment from the other driver’s insurance company, which is almost certain to play hardball in an effort to spend as little as possible.
Common Obstacles to Recovery Faced by Accident Victims
If it appears that litigation may be the only way to force an insurer to pay fair compensation to an accident victim, there are several roadblocks of which it pays to be aware. Perhaps most important among these is the fact that the Colorado legislature has imposed a three-year statute of limitations concerning auto accident lawsuits to which prospective plaintiffs must adhere in order to preserve their right to file suit.
Furthermore, Colorado has adopted a doctrine of comparative fault in personal injury matters. This means that prior to determining appropriate compensation in a car accident case, juries are required to assess whether or not the victim shares any of the blame for what occurred. If so, his or her damage award must be reduced by the amount of responsibility he or she was found to have. If the victim is more than 50% at fault, recovery will be barred altogether.
Key Steps Taken by a Colorado Accident Claims Attorney
For all of the above reasons, a car accident attorney can prove invaluable in a crash victim’s pursuit of the full amount of compensation to which they are entitled. Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal understands the importance of a comprehensive investigation of the facts underlying every client’s case and will work in collaboration with medical experts, engineers, crash investigators and others to establish what truly happened, who is to blame and the real total of damages sustained. To accomplish these tasks, close analysis will be undertaken of evidence that may include:
- accident reports
- accident scene photographs
- photographs of damage to property
- witness statements
- medical records and billing
- medical imaging reports
- accident reconstruction reporting
- wage and earning capacity assessments
Tireless Advocacy Throughout the Accident Claims Process
The days, weeks and sometimes even months following a serious car accident tend to be a time marked by pain, frustration and a number of unanticipated financial challenges. While some insurance claims stemming from incidents of this type are handled swiftly and fairly by the responsible carrier, others are characterized by delays, denials, and outright injustice.
Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal offers injury victims the aggressive advocacy and compassionate client service they deserve during what is undoubtedly a difficult period in their lives. If you or a loved one are among the unfortunate individuals harmed due to the negligence of another driver, we invite you to contact us at 303.825.2223 to schedule an initial consultation.